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UCF students use new life-like holograms in healthcare studies

The 3-D technology gives students a more "true-to-life" experience of seeing different medical conditions up close.
Credit: NIKCOA - stock.adobe.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — It's like something out of a sci-fi movie. Students at the University of Central Florida are using holograms — that's right, 3-D projections of actual live people— to further their studies in the medical field.

The futuristic technology, created by PORTL Inc. and known as "Dr. Hologram," allows students to have very "true-to-life" interaction in order to practice more humanistic care, according to Bari Hoffman, associate dean of clinical affairs for the College of Health Professions and Sciences, who spearheaded the project. 

It's the next best thing to seeing patients in person, which comes in handy when in-person interactions are cost-prohibitive, or in more recent cases, during a global pandemic.

Students can interact with both live and pre-recorded projections of patients with a variety of medical conditions at different severities. They can also have virtual experiences with patients who are immune-compromised, without posing a health risk, UCF's website says. Typically, learning experiences have been limited to pictures and videos or relied on volunteers to comes to class, the school adds.

Because the holograms are so lifelike, UCF says students are more engaged and see better learning outcomes. The technology opens to door for students to have live 3-D presentations with doctors and health experts all around the world. 

The College of Health Professions and Sciences also plans to utilize the live “holoportation” capabilities in its clinical practices to expand care to rural areas, when in-person care is not feasible. 

UCF was able to obtain "Dr. Hologram" thanks to a gift from Brooks Rehabilitation. 

“As patients expect the delivery of care to expand and occur in new ways, ensuring students have access to cutting-edge technology for simulated patient training and learning is essential to advancing the health and well-being of our communities," said Doug Baer, president and CEO of Brooks Rehabilitation.